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Everton preparing for “mental and physical test”

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Captain Jagielka speaks about upcoming games against Man City & Liverpool

Everton v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

While Everton have struggled to win away from home all season, under Sam Allardyce the Blues have been quite tidy at home. The manager faces the toughest Goodison Park tests of his (temporary?) stewardship in the coming weekends though, with first champions-elect Manchester City and then Liverpool coming to the Grand Old Lady. Ironically, the pair play the first leg of their Champions League quarter final in between those two ties.

With a number of players either away on international duty or out injured, club captain Phil Jagielka has been leading the rest of the squad in training and spoke with evertontv about what was left of the season.

“We knew how many games we had left and what we wanted to do as a team moving forward and that is what the discussions were about.

“To get another win gives us positive momentum, there are two fantastic games to look forward to now and they give us an opportunity to test ourselves mentally and physically against these teams and, hopefully, come out on top.

“We will keep what was said in house – but I think it was important and we can go from there.

“It was nothing too mad and we have had these conversations before. It was led by the manager and it was nice to get a few fresh ideas and thoughts. It worked against Stoke and is something we can keep going.”

Jags has been in good nick, with the Blues picking up wins in his last three starts, including two in a row over Brighton & Hove Albion and Stoke City.

“I think continuity and getting people back, not only playing but also in the squad [was key to the wins over Brighton and Stoke].

“We have a couple of lads who are very experienced and have been out the squad a little while, so getting them back in and winning a couple of games brings confidence. That is the way football is, it can change so quickly.

”We probably have not played amazingly well at times in the two matches but we have still managed to get the results, which is a positive sign.

“Our home form has been very good and it was nice to get an away win. We should have and could have played a lot better [against Stoke]... but a win is a win.”

Everton have five wins and two draws under Allardyce at Goodison, and that kind of form will be required if the Blues are looking to get back into seventh again like last season.

“We can look forward to the exciting schedule ahead. There is a little bit of confidence building and hopefully everyone who is away will come back fighting fit and we can go and put in some good performances.

“If we can get as high up the league as possible it would mean we have had a good second part of the season. As is stands, there are a few games left, a few tough ones, a few interesting ones, and we need to make sure we come to the table and try to get some points from every one of them.”